Students living on campus at the University of Utah may have to change some habits beginning Friday, thanks to new smoking rules imposed within housing units.

Two-thirds of the U.'s on-campus apartments are already smoke-free, but the rest will be joining them shortly.

Up until now, students and residents who choose to smoke can light up at home if they are living at the East and West Villages, Medical Plaza Towers and in townhouses located within the university complex. But the smoking rules are about to change.

"We have 1,115 units on campus, and 643 are already non-smoking," said Rick James, director of University Student Apartments. He said the new rule is being put in place to make it one uniform rule among all campus residences.

"You can still smoke on our property, you just have to do it in restricted areas," he said.

The change comes in the wake of dozens of complaints of unwanted smoke filling the air.

"I'd dare say it's our number one complaint," James said. "People are irritated by smoke." Although the units have separate ventilation systems, James said smoke breaks through most everywhere. Parking, he said, is the second top complaint filed at the apartments.

According to the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act, individuals must smoke at least 25 feet from any building entrance or air intake. University housing rules will impose the same requirements, and James said no smoking will be tolerated in common areas, such as family housing areas and playgrounds.

Previously, residents could smoke inside some of the units but will now be required to walk away from the building, which is cumbersome for those who may live on the sixth or seventh floors of the towers in the health sciences complex, said Heather Hatch, event coordinator at the U.

"They're the only people who have said it isn't fair," she said.

The no-smoking rule will be enforced as strictly as possible, but James said he hopes it won't be much of a problem. Residents who witness someone smoking in restricted areas will be encouraged to file incident reports, which will then be followed up by housing supervisors.

James said they will likely issue a warning on a first offense, but in some cases, a $30 fine will be imposed. Second offenses elicit a $50 fine, and the third time a resident is contacted about disobeying housing rules, their rental contract will be canceled.

The rule was announced Dec. 1 and will be fully implemented on campus in a few weeks.

"All the studies show what second-hand smoke does to your health and it's just not safe," James said. He believes many public facilities are moving toward the trend to curb a smoky atmosphere.

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